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EU Signals Could OK Oracle Deal With No Sell-off

AOIFE WHITE

BRUSSELS (AP) ¿ European Union regulators looked closer to approving Oracle Corp.'s takeover of Sun Microsystems Inc. when they said Monday that the company's stated commitment to open-source database software was "an important new element."

The European Commission is holding up the $7.4 billion (euro5.05 billion) deal over worries that Oracle would gain too much control over the database software market if it takes over Sun's open-source-based MySQL, which the EU claims poses a threat to Oracle's own database programs.

Oracle moved to soothe those fears Monday, promising it would invest heavily in MySQL and maintain both licenses and the sharing of interface information with developers so that they could continue to make products compatible with MySQL.

Sun's shares rose 9 percent to $9.11 on the U.S. NASDAQ exchange, while Oracle shares traded up 2.3 percent at $23.30 on increased optimism the deal will go through.

European regulators have a Jan. 27 deadline to decide whether to approve the takeover or block it. They earlier said they were concerned that Oracle could refuse to license MySQL to some companies or for some uses to favor its own software ¿ which could limit customer choice and ultimately hike prices. Sun paid $1 billion for MySQL last year.

Companies often soothe antitrust worries by selling off units or making binding promises to change the way they operate to avoid anticompetitive damage to rivals or customers. EU spokesman Jonathan Todd said Oracle had not so far formally offered any such changes to the deal.

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